Thursday, 30 May 2013

First signs of breeding

Finally we managed to find some evidence of breeding activity today with the discovery of two  breeding females, one of which was at roost with its mate. All three birds were previously unringed and are new additions to the local breeding population.
Hopefully the sign of better things to come.

A beautiful first year female with her new ring; the talons are sharp!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Some Good News

News reached me at the weekend that one of the owlets that I had ringed at Lach Dennis last June had been caught by the ringing team at Woolston Eyes.
This male had travelled over 17km north, quite a long way in Barn Owl terms, and represented a rare find for the team at Woolston. Bizarrely though he did not have the good grace to use one of the Barn Owl boxes that I had provided; preferring to skulk inside a Tawny Owl box instead!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Little Owl Saves the Day

Peter and I went out tonight to try and find some glimmer of hope on the Barn Owl front. Sadly all of the box checks revealed nothing more than one fresh pellet.
This female Little Owl was, however, the highlight of a disappointing evening when she was discovered in one of our Little Owl boxes with one tiny chick and two eggs. She is the first breeding Little Owl that we have found this year.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Poor Early Signs

Reports from the British Trust for Ornithology have demonstrated that 2013 may be a difficult year for Barn Owls. Recent winters have seen some severe cold weather which has made life very difficult for the nation's Barn Owls and the BTO has seen reporting rates of dead ringed birds rise. This usually happens earlier in the year but this year the reporting rate for late March has shown an exceptional increase, just when these birds are supposed to be starting to breed!

At such times of year it is common to receive reports of birds that have been hit by vehicles on the roads but this year a high proportion have been found emaciated close to farms and residences. This is a sure sign that things are not well in the countryside and that food resources are low.

The graph below (from the BTO) shows how extraordinary late March 2013 has been. The figure is sure to rise for early April this year but hopefully it wont compare to late March. Deep snow, wind and flooding has hindered the ability for Barn Owls to find food. These results reflect our own experiences in Mid-Cheshire.

This emaciated Barn Owl was discovered in a barn on a farm on the outskirts of Northwich in late March.
Initial checks of regular breeding sites have not resulted in any breeding birds being found and the next month will determine whether or not 2013 proves to be a successful breeding season or not.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Change to Vole Cycle?

Research indicates possible changes to the established vole cycle which, if true, will have implications for breeding owls